In the Shadow of Horse

In the Shadow of Horse
In the Shadow of Horse

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to Race Horses without Lasix, Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Horses have long raced without medication the day they run, and appropriately so. Medication is for horses who are sick or unsound. Only healthy horses are qualified to race. Horses that require drugs to race should not be raced until they heal, and can race without medication. Healthy horses race safest.
Trainers who feel they cannot race horses without injecting them with raceday drugs are unqualified horsemen. The concept of fair play precludes the use of drugs to influence the outcome of a race. Horses deserve better than to be medicated on raceday, as over 90% now are. Horses have long successfully raced clean when properly cared for and appropriately conditioned, and have raced more safely than mismanaged horses that require medication to get them around the oval each race. 
Conscientious horsemanship and appropriate husbandry of stabled racehorses manages both EIPH and soundness. Horses need to get out of their stalls each afternoon for a few hours of grazing and walking about, perhaps some lungeing to lung up the lungs and flush the metabolism. Horses are born to move nearly constantly, and it is this near constant movement that appropriately conditions lungs to handle the athletic rigors of a horserace. Humane care of the horses is the answer to managing bleeding and breakdowns, not drugs, my goodness. The bleeding medication issue is entwined with the breakdown issue, as it is the horses medicated for bleeding that breakdown approximately 4X more frequently than clean running horses.
The horses will prevail soon, as the ban on raceday drugs is inevitably necessary to revive the sport and restore integrity to the game. 
Horses everywhere will breath great sighs of relief at not having to be needled with drugs hours before every race they run.


Dr Gustafson is an equine veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, and novelist. He helps refine horse training methods to accommodate the inherent nature and behavior of horses. Applied veterinary behavior enhances optimum health, performance, soundness, contentment, and longevity in animal athletes. Natural approaches to development, training, nutrition, and conditioning sustain equine health and enhance performance. Behavioral and nutritional enrichment strategies enhance the lives of stabled horses. Training and husbandry from the horse's perspective result in content, cooperative horses. DrSid provides equine behavior consultations to help recreate the needs and preferences of horses in training and competition.
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